I was never the biggest fan of rain before moving to Sacramento. But, these days, I often find myself searching the sky for gray clouds. A good downpour, I’ve come to understand, is about the only way the smears of human poop will get washed off the city’s sidewalks, and the stench of urine and vomit will disappear from the city’s alleys.
That residents have to rely on Mother Nature to mitigate a man-made public health problem is ridiculous. But apparently this is how we roll in Sacramento. We’re a city with leaders who insist we’re “world class” enough to host an NBA All-Star game, but can’t find the political will to provide enough public restrooms for homeless people so no one has to scrub feces off the sidewalk.
This isn’t normal and it has to change. It will come down to money, yes. But, mostly, it’s about priorities.
For years, the Sacramento City Council has been ignoring agitated homeless advocates, and now, with a rapidly gentrifying central city, sky-high housing costs and a ballooning homeless population, the problem has become a perfect poopstorm.
On Monday, the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness released an independent assessment of the public-restroom situation in the city’s more than 200 parks. It found that most didn’t have toilets at all, and of those that did, about a third were closed and the rest were open only during the day.
Meanwhile, the options are even slimmer downtown and in midtown. There, the nonprofit found that only five of the city’s 22 parks have restrooms – none that are open 24 hours a day.
To be fair, the city had its reasons for closing the restrooms.